How to Install Heat Tape for Reptiles

Updated April 07, 2017

Heat tape is manufactured to heat water pipes. Several companies manufacture the product but one brand in particular, Flexwatt, has become popular with reptile owners for heating the bottoms of their cold-blooded animals' cages. The tape comes in 3-, 4- and 11-inch widths; you should use the 3- or 4-inch-wide tape. Some reptile owners create their own wire connections for the tape by cutting the ends off extension cords, stripping the wires and connecting them to the tape. Buy a connection kit from a reptile store instead.

Cut the heat tape to the length of your animal's cage with a pair of scissors. Insulate the cut end by covering it with electrical tape.

Position the two butterfly-shaped heat tape clips on the end of the heat tape connection power cord, over the two metal strips on the outside edges of the heat tape. Fold the connectors in half with a pair of pliers so they enclose the metal strips on the uncut end of the heat tape.

Cover the heat tape clips with the snap-together insulators included with the connection kit. If your kit does not include insulators, cover the clips with electrical tape.

Move the reptile cage or aquarium. Set the heat tape within the enclosure footprint. Cover the tape with heavy duty aluminium foil. The foil dissipates the heat and helps prevent hot spots.

Set the cage on top of the heat tape and the aluminium foil. Do not set the cage on top of the insulators or power cord.

Plug in the power cord and set the dimmer, rheostat or thermostat on the power cord to the lowest setting. Check the temperature of the bottom of the cage with your hand after 10 minutes.


For reptiles, always connect heat tape to a power source with a connection kit that includes a dimmer, rheostat, or thermostat. Never install heat tape inside a reptile cage.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Electrical tape
  • Heat tape connection kit with dimmer, rheostat or thermostat
  • Pliers
  • Heavy-duty aluminium foil
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About the Author

Don Davis has been a professional writer since 1977. He has had numerous writing jobs, including writing news and features for the "Metrowest Daily News" and "Los Angeles Herald-Examiner." Davis has a Bachelor of Arts in English and history from Indiana State University.